Mati Ke

The Mati Ke otherwise known as the Magatige, are an indigenous Australian people, whose traditional lands are located in the Wadeye area in the Northern Territory, Their language is in danger of extinction.


Mati Ke, also known as Magati-Ge, Magadige, Marti Ke, Magati Gair, is classified as one of the Western Daly languages, and bearing close affinities to Marringarr and Marrithiyel.[1] In 1983 around 30 fluent speakers of the language survived,[2] and by the early 2000s, some 50 people were thought to still speak some of it as a second or third language.[3]

By the early 2000s the last completely fluent speakers were reckoned to be three people, Johnny Chula, Patrick Nudjulu and his sister Agatha Perdjert, both of whom who moved back to a government-built outstation at Kuy on the Shores facing the Timor Sea.[4] Though living in close proximity to one another, they never spoke it together since in their social system communication between brother and sister after puberty was forbidden.[5]

Social organization

The clan and totem system was described by the Norwegian ethnologist Johannes Falkenberg in 1962, based on fieldwork conducted in 1950.[6][7]


The Mati Ke were one of several tribes living south of Wadeye between the Moyle and Fitzmaurice rivers. Many move to Wadeye when a Catholic mission was set up there in the 1930s. Most descendants of the tribe dropped using their Mati Ke speech and adopted the majority language in the area, Murrinh-Patha, which is spoken by about 2500 people, and serves as a lingua franca for several other ethnic groups.

Alternative names

  • Maritige.
  • Muringata.
  • Muringa (Murinbata exonym)
  • Muringe.
  • Berinken, Berinkin, Berringin.
  • Brinken, Brinkan.[8]



    1. Grimes 2003, p. 416.
    2. Abley 2005, p. 11.
    3. Grimes 2003, pp. 415–416.
    4. Abley 2005, pp. 3,11.
    5. Michaels 2007, p. 106.
    6. Falkenberg 1962.
    7. Needham 1962, pp. 1316–1318.
    8. Tindale 1974, p. 230.


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